Reviews are in for Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga starring in Macbeth on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre in New York, which officially opened on 28 April 2022.
Directed by Sam Gold, and produced by 007 James Bond filmmakers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga play the haunted couple at the centre of Shakespeare’s great tragedy.
The wider cast includes Phillip James Brannon as Ross, Grantham Coleman as Macduff, Asia Kate Dillon as Malcolm, Maria Dizzia as Lady Macduff, Amber Gray as Banquo, Emeka Guindo as Fleance, Paul Lazar as Duncan, Bobbi MacKenzie as Macduff’s child, Michael Patrick Thornton as Lennox, and Danny Wolohan as Seyton. The ensemble also includes Che Ayende, Eboni Flowers, Peter Smith, Lizzy Brooks and Ronald Emile. Stevie Ray Dallimore serves as the Macbeth standby.
The show didn’t get a great start, with Craig and a number of the cast getting Covid early on in the run, forcing the play the cancel. It’s fair to say the critics were mixed on the response to the play, with director Sam Gold and the key cast getting some wildly conflicting opinions on their vision and performances. Check out the reviews below, including UK press the Guardian, Times and Telegraph, and US critics including New York Times, Variety, TimeOut and more.
There’s still no news on whether this production of Macbeth will transfer to the West End.
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga soar but there’s magic missing"
"Sam Gold’s inventively staged take on the classic tragedy has its moments but there’s something missing at the centre"
"There is shock – short, sharp – and surprises and some playful, inventive staging, but little that feels truly risky or dangerous. The conflicts are external, not internal. “It feels good,” Thornton teases in that opening speech, “to cast a little spell”. Yet, despite the charms and potions, there’s not so much magic here."
"Daniel Craig swaps Bond for the Bard"
"The director Sam Gold gives us an irrepressibly imaginative modern-dress production that is constantly pushing the envelope, occasionally as if still testing out lines in a rehearsal. If the ensemble verse-speaking is relaxed and unbuttoned, Craig’s king is slightly stiff, a tad self-conscious in his speech and very English. He’s dressed casual-smart, at one point donning an expensive-looking collarless coat. His soliloquies are blunt expressions of manhood and ambition. This Macbeth impresses with sheer physical power rather than poetry."
"Daniel Craig fails to shake or stir, but Ruth Negga provides a quantum of solace"
"You have to admire the ex-007's bravery in starring in this experimental Broadway staging, but it's Negga's Lady Macbeth who steals the show"
"The show’s saving grace is Ruth Negga’s magnetic, tenacious Lady Macbeth – her journey from ambitious murderer to tormented madwoman gives the production its most affecting moments, especially when she’s confined to a table (serving as a bed) during her “sleepwalking” scene. Yet Negga and Craig don’t fully engage as a couple, and aside from Amber Gray’s impressive Banquo, the supporting cast, who play multiple roles, remain disconnected from one another.
"Still, I have to commend Craig’s willingness to immerse himself in such a risky undertaking. He certainly could have played Macbeth in a safer, more traditional rendering that maximized his star power. In terms of danger, I’m not sure any Bond action sequence could compare to this off-beat take on Shakespeare’s dark tragedy."
"Daniel Craig, Ruth Negga Star in a Broadway Production That’s All Smoke"
"Craig has some strong moments but does not capture the transformation of Macbeth into a power-hungry tyrant. He and Gold make no attempt to draw any parallels between Macbeth and current political leaders — a lost opportunity, especially since, as we are told in the curtain speech, the play was commissioned by a king who had strong thoughts about usurpers and violent leaders. While Craig’s performance is imperfect, it is Negga who is the bigger disappointment. She falls flat, giving a generic performance. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s best characters, but Negga, far from the center of the play, barely leaves a mark."
"In a New ‘Macbeth,’ Something Wonky This Way Comes"
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga star in Sam Gold’s oddly uneasy take on the Scottish play."
"Though the production too often feels as if it were designed for the company’s own edification — an endless rehearsal rather than a Broadway revival — it is not without its outward-facing qualities, especially after the initial throat-clearing. There are beautiful, quietly observed moments: a glance between Craig and Negga, for instance, that says more about marriage than some entire plays on the subject. There are smaller characters crystallized in a flash: Lazar’s Duncan dainty and handsy, Maria Dizzia’s Lady Macduff heartbreakingly resolute."
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga are the nominal stars of Sam Gold's take on Macbeth."
"There is a lot to be said for originality of interpretation, and Gold’s Macbeth‘s is more engaging in retrospect, when you can stop wondering what is happening and start thinking about why. But it also feels wrong to leave this play with the central couple, in your mind, being Lennox and First Witch. With actors of Craig and Negga’s stature and ability at one’s disposal, why dispose of them? It takes considerable grinding to make Macbeth this dull."
"Daniel Craig And Ruth Negga Take Stab At Killer Chemistry In Uneven Reign Of Shakespeare’s Ambitious Royals"
"Craig, 007-strong if forcefully one-note in the title role, and Negga – whose transformation from murderously ambitious soldier’s wife to haunted, spot-damning wreck is one of the production’s delights – lead a large cast that includes stand-outs Amber Gray (in the gender-switched role of the doomed Banquo), Paul Lazar (as the doomed King Duncan) and Grantham Coleman (as the doomed Macduff)."
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga bring movie-star glamour to a starkly modern Broadway staging"
"This is not a grand Macbeth — the staging is too sparse and self-aware, almost tossed-off (or at least determined to give that impression), for that. But in a tender, tremulously sung coda, the toil and trouble fade, subsumed by willful intimacy: its marquee stars and supporting players alike brought low by tragedy, tangled in a scrum on the floor."
Note: Star rating converted from EW grade B
"Sam Gold directs this unorthodox — and unfortunate — take on the Bard's classic, also featuring Asia Kate Dillon of 'Billions.'"
"... we’re there to witness the latest attempt by the maddeningly inconsistent director Sam Gold to infuse new life into a classic play. Perhaps we should have taken a hint from the production’s marketing, which prominently features the names of the stars and director while Shakespeare’s is nowhere to be seen. In retrospect, that seems appropriate, since this is far more Sam Gold’s Macbeth than the Bard’s."
"Damned Spots Aplenty"
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga star in Sam Gold’s gloomy, minimalist production of the Scottish play."
"The director, Sam Gold, is perhaps the most puzzlingly—or do I mean predictably?—uneven one working in New York theater."
"Mr. Craig, known best for his James Bond on film, is a veteran stage actor here left seemingly to his own devices. Although his commanding presence is undeniable, he fails to bring alive the interior life of one of Shakespeare’s most compellingly conflicted tragic figures. Many of Macbeth’s soliloquies are delivered at the lip of the stage directly to the audience, as if they were miniature TED talks, with logic and rationality subsuming the roiling psychic torment that should be a hallmark of any thoughtful interpretation of the character."
"Ms. Negga’s Lady Macbeth is rather bland, perhaps in part because her seething attempts to encourage Macbeth in his regicidal ambitions seem unnecessary. The performance is polished in terms of the precision of Ms. Negga’s grasp of the language, but oddly vacuous when it comes to animating one of Shakespeare’s most arresting female figures. Even the famous sleepwalking scene, when Lady Macbeth’s mind disintegrates before our eyes under the weight of her guilt, does not achieve the frightening pathos it often does. (Incidentally, Ms. Negga’s Hamlet, seen in Brooklyn several years ago, was outstanding.)"
"Stripped back and overstuffed"
"Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga give strong performances in a stylistically overstuffed production"
"[Amber] Gray is riveting. She may be half his size, but she is Macbeth’s peer with a strength and nobility in her delivery. Yet, she brings a tenderness that elevates Banquo’s betrayal. Dillon, however, feels adrift."
"Daniel Craig play is a Disaster Royale"
"His [Craig's] uninvolving and ponderous production (it opened Thursday night at the Longacre Theatre, but barred critics from publishing reviews till midday Friday for reasons that will soon become obvious to you) is a real Blunderball. Witches, regicide, beheadings and descents into madness are made as boring and convoluted as “Quantum of Solace."